123 Vietnamese fishermen arrested in Malaysia crackdown on illegal fishing

By Nguyen Quy   May 18, 2019 | 11:00 pm PT
123 Vietnamese fishermen arrested in Malaysia crackdown on illegal fishing
Fishermen hop on coracles to head for their fishing vessels off the south central coast in Vietnam in June 2018. Photo by VnExpress/Le Dang
Malaysian authorities have detained 25 Vietnamese vessels and 123 crew members for allegedly fishing illegally in their country’s waters in a major crackdown.

"Op Naga", carried out from May 2-16, was led by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency and involved joint enforcement and patrolling efforts in the waters off and airspace over Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan, The Star Online reported. 

This is the toughest move yet by the Malaysia to curb encroachment by foreign fishing vessels, especially Vietnamese, into its waters.

Authorities checked 266 foreign fishing vessels in all and 25 of them have been seized

The Malaysian Home Ministry said on Saturday that the detained Vietnamese fishermen were being investigated under the Fisheries Act for fishing without the permission of the Fisheries director general and violating the Immigration Act for entering Malaysia without proper documentation.

"Op Naga will be continued to ensure that there is no trespassing in Malaysian waters and that local fishermen can carry out their activities without disturbance and competition from foreign fishermen."

Vietnamese fishermen are often charged with violations in neighboring countries.

Since the beginning of 2018 there have been 101 cases of Vietnamese boats intruding into the waters of other countries.

A total of 163 vessels and 1,258 fishermen were detained, Nguyen Quang Hung, deputy head of the Directorate of Fisheries, said last month.

Despite its 3,260 km (2,025 miles) coastline, Vietnam is running out of near-shore seafood resources, and some fishermen who have sailed into other countries’ waters also said they face threats from Chinese vessels that are illegally anchored in Vietnamese waters for trawling and are chased away by them.

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